Healthy people play. I first heard that phrase from Dr. Karyn Purvis at an adoption conference. I copied it down in my notes, probably with an exclamation point or underlining. It may not be a profound statement, but it resonates with the truth of the ethos. It is something that we all know intuitively and yet often ignore. If you are not healthy, physically or emotionally, you will not play. In the same way, play helps you to be healthy, both physically and emotionally.
The National Center on Accessibility defines play as “a physical or mental activity that has no purpose or objective outside of pure enjoyment or amusement” (Definition of play, 2004). While children learn so much through play, their goal is pure fun. This fun helps us to relax and makes us better learners. Although, the goal of play may be pure fun, play is educational and a path through development. Play helps us to grow cognitively, emotionally, socially, and physically. We learn more about our world, ourselves, and others through play, all via the vehicle of fun. Even as adults, play can benefit us in all the same ways. Play helps us to grow in creativity, abstract thinking, problem-solving, empathy, confidence, cooperation, conflict resolution, concentration, vocabulary and more. It allows us to be physically active, practice taking risks, practice interpersonal skills, and try new things.
In your journey towards improved health, how often are you taking time to play? Is your exercise a workout or an opportunity to play? Is exercise an obligation or a time to relax and have fun? The way to grow a muscle is to stress and recover and stress and recover. Physical play can help you recover mentally and continue to grow as a person. Try an intra-mural sports league, a Zumba class, or ballroom dancing. What activities are fun for you?